Bush’s Appearance at Fundraiser Tonight for David Vitter Raises Troubling Questions
If Jeb Bush embodies many Republicans’ hopes to soften the GOP’s harsh brand image on immigration and expand the party’s competitiveness with Latino voters, then why is he endorsing and appearing at a political fundraiser tonight for the virulently anti-immigrant Senator David Vitter?
Jeb Bush says he has a “grown-up plan” on immigration and he famously described “someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally” as “an act of love.” Though Bush has drifted right on immigration ahead of the Republican primary, coming out against immigration executive action and adoptingthe vacuous “secure the border first” soundbite, Bush nonetheless seems to realize that he can’t win over Latino voters with a mass deportation-only agenda.
Meanwhile, David Vitter is one of the most consistent anti-immigrant hardliners in the Senate – a vocal opponent of the DREAM Act, comprehensive immigration reform, and President Obama’s immigration executive action programs and a lead sponsor of efforts to restrict the use of discretion in immigration enforcement to target felons, not families (it continues to be ironic that Sen. Vitter is adamantly opposed to the use of discretion due to his own history). Vitter not only has a longstanding anti-immigrant voting record, but he is responsible for one of the most virulently anti-Latino and anti-immigrant campaign ads in recent years.
Sen. Vitter seems to be obsessed with gutting the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by denying American citizenship to babies born on U.S. soil, unless their parents can prove they have the right immigration documents. Since the Civil War, the 14th Amendment has guaranteed citizenship to all children born in America, regardless of their background. As former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger wrote in a Politico op-ed several years ago in response to GOP attempts to change the 14th Amendment:
“Reflecting on our country’s experience with Dred Scott, we concluded, in the Civil War’s aftermath, that we should never again entrust politicians or judges with the power to deny citizenship to a class of people born on U.S. soil … With the birth of each new child on U.S. soil, any questions about the legitimacy of prior generations are forever confined to those generations. Each new boy or girl born here is — simply and indisputably — an American.”
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Jeb Bush claims to view immigrants through a lens of compassion. David Vitter views them through a lens of fear, stoking old stereotypes and even attacking babies born in America. Bush recently said that the diversity of Florida is what the future of the country looks like – but it wouldn’t be the case if David Vitter gets his way. Bush’s endorsement and embrace of Vitter raises troubling questions about the lengths Bush will go to navigate the shoals of Republican primary season. Jeb Bush should be asked where he stands on Vitter’s attempts to change the 14th Amendment and why he is standing next to a leading anti-immigrant Senator whose vision of America supposedly looks so much different from his own.”